Blackouts prevent dialysis units operation in Portuguesa state

Power cuts prevent the working of dialysis units in Portuguesa. Damaged machines and electrical failures put at risk the lives of kidney patients.

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Kidney patients are worried about their lives for the units' poor conditions. Photo by Mariangel Moro.

When Noe Mendoza’s turn to dialyze came there was no power for the machines. A blackout in the cities of Acarigua-Araure and other locations in Portuguesa state prevented him from complete the treatment he receives three times a week to improve his living conditions or at least lengthen his days.

The 60-year-old man, who lives in Araure, arrived before 11:00 a.m. at the Portuguesa Dialysis Unit, a center of the Venezuelan Social Security Institute along with one of his daughters, who was fanning him with a piece of cardboard while they waiting for the electrical service be restored, in a dark room with the dialysis machines.

Other patients were in the same room. The unit does not have an emergency generator just like the main children’s hospital, J.M De Los Rios in Caracas, had working backup power.

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All this happened Thursday, March 5th, just when members of the Civil Association of Kidney Patients went before the Ombudsman’s Office and the media to denounce the conditions in which they are dialyzing, not only in this unit but in several health centers in Acarigua-Araure.

Dialysis units in other parts of Venezuela, including the capital, also complained of having to buy water trucks because of irregular or insufficient water service to treat patients.

The deterioration of the dialysis units causes concern among the sick and their families. The machines get damaged without being replaced or at least repaired even though they are vital for keeping these people alive. Osmosis machine -which separates the liquids and in turn the molecules- has not been working for two years and although many writs have been submitted to the Social Security, they have not answered.

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